Published: Fri, November 17, 2017
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Trump Administration Lifts Ban on Importing Elephant Trophies from Africa

Trump Administration Lifts Ban on Importing Elephant Trophies from Africa

A licensed two-week African elephant hunt can cost more than $50,000 per person, not including airfare, according to advertised rates.

The decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to reverse the ban follows moves in favour of the US hunting sector that are worrying some observers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said it will allow trophy hunters to bring back legally hunted wildlife to the country, removing restrictions on permits that were put in place to discourage the hunting and poaching of animals that are on the threatened species list.

Every year since 2010, elephant populations in Africa have dropped by 7% on average - more than 30,000 deaths per year.

They argued that the ban reversal will raise money for conservation programs from hunters who pay to shoot them, noting that Zambia and Zimbabwe made changes to their elephant conservation efforts since the ban was implemented.

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Under the Obama administration, elephant-hunting trophies were allowed in countries such as South Africa but not in Zimbabwe because Fish and Wildlife decided in 2015 that the nation had failed to prove that its management of elephants enhanced the population.

Animal rights activists and environmental groups expressed skepticism Thursday that killing elephants could help save them.

"What kind of message does it send to say to the world that poor Africans who are struggling to survive can not kill elephants in order to use or sell their parts to make a living, but that it's just fine for rich Americans to slay the beasts for their tusks to keep as trophies?" he continued.

SCI and the National Rifle Association filed suit to challenge the ban and a court has already pushed back the start date of the ban from April 4, 2014 to May 12, 2014.

Mr Trump's sons Donald jnr and Eric are well-known hunting enthusiasts.

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The Fish and Wildlife Service has been talking with wildlife officials in Zimbabwe since the ban was announced in 2014. Since elephant numbers have dropped by 62 percent over the last decade, conservationists fear they could be nearly extinct in the next 10 years.

Despite their listing under the Endangered Species Act, there is a provision in USA law that allows permits to import animal parts if there is sufficient evidence that the fees generated will actually benefit species conservation.

Illicit demand for elephant ivory has led to devastating losses from illegal poaching as the natural habitat available for the animals to roam has also dwindled by more than half.

Zimbabwe is now in turmoil, with President Robert Mugabe under house arrest as a military coup unfolds.

The nonprofit group's report found a population drop of 6% in Zimbabwe alone. A 2012 picture of Donald Trump Jr.in Zimbabwe shows him standing in front of the corpse of an African elephant, holding a knife in one hand and a severed tail in the other. "With tanks in the streets, whoever is actually running the Zimbabwe government just can't be trusted to protect elephants from slaughter by poachers".

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